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Sarah Caro – REVISING YOUR PhD: Part 2 ‘The Style and Genre of your Thesis’

Sarah Caro, author of How to Publish Your PhD has kindly offered us this six-part guide on revising a thesis for publication as a book. Over the coming weeks she’ll be explaining how to understand what type of book you can produce as well as discover ways of shaping it up into a more book-like body of material.

Using the rough guidelines I offered last week, you can now begin to analyze your own thesis and try to identify those features that are unique to your thesis and those features which are common to the genre. You might even find it is easiest to do this by taking a piece of paper and dividing it into three columns. I will tell you what the third column is for in a minute but for the tine being you could put ‘unique feature’ at the top of one column and ‘feature of the genre’ at the top of the next. Feature of the genre should be easiest to start with and might include:


  • a chapter on methodology
  • literature review
  • defensive – sets out to prove a specific thesis
  • specialist audience
  • formalized structure

Unique to your thesis might include:

  • original research
  • develops new theoretical model
  • links a with x for the first time
  • applies x method to y problem
  • provides first exploration of y over z period of time

Having done that you should then put in column three those features which are common to the sub genre you have decided to adopt and to your thesis. If you are hoping to publish your book as an academic monograph you might have:


  • literature review usually integrated into text
  • potential audience of academics, researchers and graduate students
  • methodology integrated
  • tends to explore a range of ideas and results and not focus on a single thesis
  • narrative flow and structure important

If you are planning to write a journal article you might put:

  • formal structure
  • separate sections on methodology and literature
  • audience is very specialized
  • style is concise

By comparing the three columns you should then be able to identify those characteristics of your thesis which are shared with the genre you plan to adopt and those which need to be changed. You should also have a very clear idea of what is unique to your thesis and needs to be preserved, even accentuated in the final published product.

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